We're back in downtown Seattle, again wondering how it's turned into a playground for roving bands of marauders. The videotape of the beating of a 15-year-old girl in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel released this week has set heads shaking throughout the city, and made unwelcome national news.
We’re back in downtown Seattle, again wondering how it’s turned into a playground for roving bands of marauders.
The videotape of the beating of a 15-year-old girl in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel released this week has set heads shaking throughout the city, and made unwelcome national news.
Just like the attack two weeks ago that left a Metro bus driver unconscious, and a 14-year-old boy charged with assault.
And just like the killing of Ed McMichael, better known as “The Tuba Man,” who died in late 2008 from injuries he suffered after being beaten by three teenagers.
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There’s so much senselessness and disbelief here, I don’t know where to start. And it doesn’t help that there are conflicting reports from all parties.
The 15-year-old stated that she told two Seattle police officers that she was being threatened, and that they did nothing but move her out of Macy’s:
“I asked them to escort me to the tunnel but they were not listening … saying for me to leave and just get out of the store.”
The police dispute this.
All we can go on is what we see in the video: The girl seeking safety in the space of three Olympic Security Services guards. Seconds later, another girl arrives and starts swinging, knocks her to the ground and kicks her in the head one, two, three, four, five … six times. It’s chilling.
What were these men guarding, then? Their jobs?
According to guidelines, Olympic guards are not to intervene when witnessing suspicious behavior or criminal activity. Rather, they should “observe and report” and radio the Metro Transit Control Center, which then calls for help.
By the time that happened, though, the girl was curled up on the ground. In her statement, she said that she has a heart condition that could have acted up during the attack and killed her.
On Wednesday, the day after the video was made public, Metro vowed to change its security policy. On Thursday, the King County Sheriff’s Office said it’s posting a deputy at each transit tunnel station.
But the damage has been done.
Kate Joncas, president of the Downtown Seattle Association, has spent the last two days doing damage control, and pleading for more transit police.
She told me she was “horrified” at the video of the beating.
“That’s not how most kids are and that’s not how Seattle is,” Joncas said. “But that is the image that is going on all over the world.”
Indeed, I just got an e-mail from an Indiana businessman who had been planning a trip to Seattle.
“I was under the impression that the public transportation system was safe and that there were people, policies and procedures in place to assist and protect the public,” Sal Soto wrote. “Then I saw the video online. Needless to say, I will not be visiting Washington anytime soon.”
Police have suggested that teenage beat-downs are common. And they seem to be business as usual for the girls’ parents, who told police that their daughters had been fighting for months — mostly about boys, but also about one girl acting “white.” So there’s a racial element here that I think needs to be acknowledged.
We deserve more from the parents of these girls and the parents of other teens who are running wild.
I know you can’t watch a teenager every minute, but if you’re going to send them out into the world, set some rules for decency and public behavior. No head kicking. No beating bus drivers. No killing innocent icons we miss to this very day.
But I’m not that hopeful. Consider the mother of the 14-year-old who is accused of attacking the bus driver. In court, she argued that her son was a victim of mistaken identity.
Spare me. Spare us all. Get a handle on your kids before 15 turns to 21 and their lives drop deeper than any transit tunnel.
Joncas remains an optimist, though. She called the bus-tunnel thugs “the customers of the future.”
“You want them to bring their kids to the holiday carousel in 10 years,” she said.
Not if it means a new generation of this.
Nicole Brodeur’s column appears Tuesday and Friday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or firstname.lastname@example.org.